The Extra's Existential Horror Hour

INVISIBLES, DC Comics/Vertigo, September 1995

I freely admit I didn't "get" The Invisibles as much as most of Morrison's other comics. And I don't know why. After all it's equal parts Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus, Lovecraft, and "superheroes" on acid, with a little time travel thrown in. I love all that stuff. I guess it got a little too allusive even for me, and as the touted replacement for Sandman as Vertigo's epic novel... it just wasn't that.

But even when I didn't understand it, it remained entertaining. And when it was good, it was very good indeed. #12 was one of my favorite issues, and not surprisingly, it's a standalone issue not really connected to the big Plot. "Best Man Fall" is a henchman story, and I've been a sucker for those since Blue Beetle #7, which I really must tell you about some day.

Basically, it's the grunt's eye view of things. Granted, in the world of the Invisibles, nobody really has the big picture, but "Bobby" doesn't even have the small one. He's just a guard paid by a corporation that's "in on it", and when he gets shot by an Invisible, well, there's just no way he could ever know why. He's just cannon fodder. He doesn't mean anything. Morrison makes a point of telling us his story.

It's freaking brilliant.

The whole thing is told as if his life was flashing before his eyes, a kind of disjointed stream of memory that gives us a complete picture of the man, and makes his death (and that of all those before and after him in fiction land) poignant.

One thing I learned about Bobby is that there's an awful lot of shoveling in his life.

Deaths, burials, the jealousy his older brother showed him, childhood fears, play fighting and real fighting, both explosive and quiet moments, we see it all. This includes the fact that he beats his wife, and yet, you can't hate the man. I don't even think it's there to make us feel better about his being killed. It holds the same message as the story: When you know a whole person, you may not agree with his decisions and actions, but you can come to understanding them, or see beyond their "role" in any given "story"(life).

Yeah, I know. I'm getting pretentious again. Morrison does that to me. I'm not done either. Here's a bit of foreshadowing, something that scared him as a boy:

Just a gasmask, but Invisible readers (the writer never does see us, does he?) will recognize Invisible cell leader King Mob.
The last memories really get me. Bobby gets shot in the face and a voice comes out of nowhere.
"Yes. It is happening." Memory? King Mob answering him? Morrison, like the maverick he is, meta-texting us a message? Over a dark panel, captions then remind us "It's only a game" and "Try to remember". There's a coded message about the entire series in there, if only I can decipher it. Damn.


GRoY said...

I've got all the Invisible collection. It's the only Grant Morrisson book I have, except God's Play, or something like that, which I haven't read completely.

The issue you're talking about is also my favorite. I haven't read any other Morrisson's, but I assume they're mostly super hero stuff, which I don't really like.

Siskoid said...

There's a lot of (mostly deconstructionist) superhero stuff, but a lot of other stuff as this week will show.

If you liked the Invisibles, you might also enjoy The Filth, for example. And I know you enough to say you'd like Kill Your Boyfriend. Vimanarama and WE3 also great. And none of them are superhero stuff (any more than Invisibles).

FoldedSoup said...

I've read and re-read that series at least 4 times now. I'm right there with you... right on the edge of seeing a bigger picture than I've been seeing. But I still think the series is fantastic. Especially that issue.

Next time I go through the whole thing, I'm taking the Barbelith annotations with me.


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